Tourist entries into Israel are up by 17% for the first quarter of 2014, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The bureau stated that a record 382,000 visitors entered Israel this May, while 1.5 million visited between January and May this year.
A press release by the Israel Ministry of Tourism published the figures and pointed out an increase in tourism by 13% over figures for the same period in 2013, 19% more than in 2012 and 24% more than in 2011.
Of the tourists who arrived in May 292,000 landed in Israel by air and 54,000 tourists came through the border crossings between Israel and Jordan.
36,000 entries were recorded by 'day visitors.' Of those, 9,700 arrived on cruise ships. 20,000 day visitors arrived by air while about 6,100 came via the border crossings.
Noting the positive statistics, Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau stated, "The first five months of 2014 bring new tourism records and upward trends. We hope that the record for incoming tourism into Israel will again be broken this year."
He credited the upswing in tourism to recent events saying, "The recent visit of Pope Francis caused a significant spike in incoming tourism, alongside the marketing work of the ministry in increasing Christian tourism, as well as cultural tourism."
Landau also added that, [Gay] Pride week will also bring gay tourism into Israel, for the marches and festivals. Those that come to Israel will discover a country not only blessed with so many holy sites, but also spectacular landscapes, rich in history, culture and night life."